Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

Giving

Being in a new city after living elsewhere for thirty years has its advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, it’s fun to find new restaurants, hiking trails and local shopping meccas. But on the minus part of the equation, it’s a bit strange to be somewhere where it’s extremely unlikely to encounter someone familiar.

That will change over time, I suppose. In the interim, I joined a local choral ensemble and was elated and surprised to discover that the process of becoming part of a venture was unusually satisfying. Seeking a common outcome and working toward that reality became enjoyable, both in the belonging and the active participation.

Last week, I experienced a similar gratification as I joined the local school system. Retirement is enjoyable and relaxing, but it was missing something that I wasn’t quite able to identify until last week. When I belong to an organization in which I believe, I am able to do what I call depositing positive energy into the universe.

Reading the news or watching it on television, we all become aware of the volunteers who champion one cause or another and dedicate hours, dollars and heart to that cause. Thanks to my recent commitments, I fully understand that being part of something honorable makes for a sense of community that is incomparable.

Some of the unhappiest people I’ve known were entirely self-absorbed and disassociated with everything. If I were a (full-time) counselor, my first recommendation to this profile is to get out and do something for someone or something else.

While I am compensated for my educating, that sum is entirely disproportionate to my passion. In my past, I committed the same enthusiasm on a purely volunteer basis. But as I grow into my new community, I hope to find valuable, lasting methods by which I can grow that environment.

Abraham Joshua Heschel, a great theologian and philosopher, once stated, “Knowledge – like the sky – is never private property. No teacher has a right to withhold it from anyone who asks for it. Teaching is the art of sharing.”

As we share with others, in the food bank, the shelter or the classroom, we give much more to ourselves. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

People priorities

As a non-federal employee who is observing the consequences of the federal shutdown, I am outraged by the obvious inability to see the tragedies of those impacted. While I understand the political positions on both sides of the dispute, it becomes clear that those who are suffering from a lack of income are always those who have everything to lose and nothing to gain in the arguments that apply.

Our news networks are filled with stories about people who are standing in food lines or have to choose between insulin and eating. They have nothing to do with the border wall and whether it is established or not. But until all of our blustering politicians finish with the dialogue and diatribe, they will not be paid for their work.

Unfortunately, most of us have absolutely no ability to impact any of this. While I can contribute to a food bank or shelter, I can’t reach the lady in Maryland who is physically challenged and can’t pay for her meds. Do we have the power to effect change? It appears that we don’t and yet we are collectively disheartened to see all of the people who serve us and are compromised by the inability of a few to reach some form of compromise.

Is the world as black and white as this political debate would lead us to believe? The balance of life is rarely that distinct. Those who are dedicated to serving the greater good fail to do what is necessary to feed and shelter those who elected them.

My most sincere hope is that border wall or not, the federal employees are paid, working and free of the current political tension that immobilizes them. We support you, work to assist you and hope with all of our hearts that your economic hardships are soon remedied. Come on, politicians! Let’s take care of our citizens and work out our immigration issues without causing so many to go hungry. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

When you take the time

If you’ve been in the customer service or sales business for any amount of time, you know that it can be gratifying, frustrating or a host of other adverbs. This has been the majority category of my career and I have always seen customer interaction as a method of delivering best care to benefit everyone involved.

Not so long ago, we received extraordinary care and service from a wait person. The young man who attended to us was kind, attentive, polite and interested in any and all methods of making us comfortable. At the end of the meal, I asked to speak to the manager so that I could compliment him on the hiring decision and extraordinary characteristics of our server.

The manager appeared grateful for the input and appeared to pass the compliments along to our young man who returned to express his thanks. Because this wasn’t the first or last time that I have elected to compliment management on a particular person, I find it surprising to hear how infrequently it happens.

Just as it is our responsibility to report problems with food or wait staff to management, isn’t it as much an imperative to deliver accolades? Chances are pretty good that this young man won’t experience a promotion or additional income because of my appreciation. But who’s to say how it will translate into improving his day, enhancing the care for future diners or generally benefit the atmosphere?

My suggestion is to take any opportunity to celebrate someone else. Leaving a tip is great but tell that person how much they contributed to your enjoyment of a meal. Tell your dental hygienist that he or she made your trip to the dentist much less stressful or painful. Advise your babysitter that her kindness to your kids cheers and improves you. Along the same lines, take a moment to help someone who appears to need that help. Several days ago, I paused to help a lady put her walker into her car and she was quite grateful for the small action.

The results of a few minutes of commendation or consideration are indescribable. Just as you want to hear that your life improves that of another in some way, people around you generally want to know the same. Shalom.

Writing, author, books, editorial, philosophy, kindle

New places and spaces

Numerous observations about the land and culture of New Mexico have become available to me in the two weeks since we arrived here. As close as this state is to Colorado, the people, climate and attitudes are remarkably different from the neighboring state. Those we meet and tell that we are from Colorado always express a love for Colorado but a desire to maintain their separation.

One of the most curious differences concerns the drivers here. On any road, at any time, we see drivers who are driving twenty or thirty miles per hour in excess of the speed limits. Yes, we had speeders in Colorado (and other places where I’ve lived) but not anywhere as many as seen here.

The population is surprisingly friendly and warm. In two days at our new home, we had three neighboring families stop by, introduce themselves and offer assistance with anything we might need. In the nine years at our last house, I never exchanged one syllable of conversation with any of our neighbors, primarily due to any expressions of interest or community.

Also along the lines of friendliness, the generous and extremely cordial people who own this bed-and-breakfast have offered assistance with solutions to our heating woes, their truck to assist in moving our possessions and two space heaters to warm our surroundings until the furnace is replaced. Clearly, this help extends far beyond the realm of lodging but our hosts have been extremely benevolent.

On numerous occasions, we have been told, “Welcome to New Mexico!” The food here is extraordinary, especially that which is labeled “New Mexican.” Geography that surrounds us is quite beautiful, especially Sandia Peak that is visible from our home.

My final observation is minor although curious and slightly amusing. Nowhere have I ever seen turn lanes as long as we have in the Albuquerque area. If you are interested in making either a right or left turn, you can commit to that turn almost a city block before it occurs. Maybe this makes up for the crazy speeders, but it’s really funny that the combination of long turn areas and a consistent prohibition on U-turns makes driving a brand-new experience. In the future, I’ll furnish other curiosities as they occur. Shalom.